March 10, 2008

Red Fails to Capitalize On Power Play Chances

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While most college students were out partying on Friday night, the Dartmouth Big Green hockey team was doing its homework — on the Red. On Saturday night, when the teams faced off in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs, the Red played from behind all night and succumbed to the Green’s relentless effort by a score of 5-3. Dartmouth’s hard work paid off and earned it a chance to play a third game in the quest for the ECAC hockey quarterfinals.
“I mean obviously you know for us tonight you got to score on your scoring chances, “ said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “They had some tips and deflections and batted one out of the air. We couldn’t put one in the ocean with numerous opportunities. … You look at the score being 5-3 but the story of the game comes down to their goalie making some big saves.”
An uneventful first period, marked by four unsuccessful power plays for the Red, seemed to convince the crowd and perhaps the Red players that the period was going to end scoreless. Unable to break through the Green defense and get a quality shot off on Dartmouth’s senior goalie Mike Devine, the Red appeared to bank on wearing down a younger, “greener” team. Then with less than three minutes to go, Green freshman Adam Estoclet tipped a shot in behind Red goalie sophomore Ben Scrivens to put his team on the board.
“I thought we did a good job with discipline,” Schafer said. “We took four penalties tonight and they took [seven]. It just shows you that as the course of this series goes on, we need to continue to play physical and make them hold, make them grab us. We did that and got ourselves on the power play an awful lot, but we had great composure not to take penalties from that standpoint.”
The Red got its fourth power play with ten seconds to go in the first, giving them a man advantage and chance to even the score at the start of the second. However, special teams was unable to capitalize. Although the Red out-shot the Green, 16-13, in the second, it struggled to maintain control of the puck and gave up an untimely turnover leading to Dartmouth’s second goal of the night. Taking advantage of the Green’s youthful overexcitement, Red freshman Riley Nash finally got one past Devine 17 seconds later with help from his linemates, freshmen Patrick Kennedy and sophomore alternate captain Colin Greening. In spite of this surge for Cornell, Dartmouth junior Brandon Harrington capitalized on a Red blunder and scored a third goal for the Green with less than two minutes of play in the second.
“We just didn’t have that poise around the net like we did yesterday and the last time we played Dartmouth, and that’s what we need to do to be successful,” said senior co-captain Raymond Sawada. “Just because Devine does come out so far that we need to hang on to the puck for that extra split second in order to get it around him.”
After a moving speech in which the Lynah Faithful cowbell player bequeathed the sacred cowbell to a worthy successor, the crowd and players all came out with renewed energy in third period. Riding on adrenaline and the deafening chanting of the crowd, junior Mike Kennedy notched a much-needed second goal putting the Red just one away from tying the game at three. Unfortunately, just under four minutes later, the Green eroded the Red’s special teams and scored a shorthanded goal to make the score 4-2. Struggling to maintain possession, the Red began to show signs of frustrations as many strong offensive rushes stopped cold in front of Devine, who made a total of 43 saves on the night. However, a goal scored by Sawada provided hope for a tie. Then, with less than a minute to play, the Green scored an empty-net goal, giving the Green the 5-3 victory.
“There’s the opportunity to come back here tomorrow to focus and finish off on our chances,” Schafer said. “We did our job on their top line to help them to no points tonight. One guys got his first career goal last night and another guy got his first goal tonight this year so hopefully they’re all done with guys who haven’t got a goal yet this year and we’ll be all set. “